This report provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications and digital media markets in Bangladesh. Subjects covered include:
Market and industry overviews;
Major players (fixed and mobile);
Mobile voice and data market;
Telecom market forecasts for selective years to 2018.
Despite being one of the poorest, most densely populated, least developed countries in the world, Bangladesh has discovered a way to grow its telecommunications sector. Against the odds, this nation of more than 160 million people and comparatively low GDP has been involved in the creation of a highly competitive mobile market. Most noticeable has been the willingness to encourage foreign participation in this endeavour. Following a number of years of strong growth, starting from a very low base, mobile telephone penetration was approaching the 30% milestone in early 2009.
The outstanding success of the mobile market, however, has been achieved in a Bangladesh that continues to struggle with its lowly economic status, its frequent natural disasters such cyclones and floods and the slow implementation of much-needed economic reforms. This state of affairs is reflected in the fixed-line segment of the local telecom market which remains stagnant with a teledensity of less than 1%, the lowest in South Asia. With almost 99% of homes lacking a telephone and with a substantial waiting list for fixed-line services, the country is still struggling with some of the most underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure in the world. Interestingly, about 80% of Bangladesh’s 1.5 million fixed telephone services were to be found in its four main cities and most of these (61% as at June 2009) had been provided by the state-owned Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board.
So, it is with some fascination that the outsider observes what has been, and continues to be, a booming mobile market in Bangladesh. In the first half of 2009, there were signs that the growth rate was easing considerably. The challenge for the operators is to maintain viable business models, given that ARPU has been rapidly falling as the telcos chase subscribers in the rural areas where 80% of the population lives in 86,000 villages. The booming mobile phone industry is estimated to have created nearly 240,000 jobs throughout the country.
Total number of subscribers1 | 200,000 | 250,000 |
Annual change | 14% | 25% |
Internet subscriber penetration (population) | 0.1% | 0.1% |
Internet subscriber penetration (household) | 0.5% | 0.6% |
Mobile services: |
Total number of subscribers (million) | 45.2 | 50.0 |
Annual change | 33% | 11% |
Mobile penetration (population) | 28% | 30% |
| (Source: BuddeComm)
Note: 1Estimates for both 2008 and 2009.
Bangladesh’s mobile market passed 47 million subscribers by June 2009 with penetration running at 30%. This was preceded by a significant three-year period in which the country saw mobile subscriber numbers more than treble as the market expanded rapidly.
GrameenPhone was far and away the leading mobile operator, claiming around 21 million subscribers, or 47% of the total mobile subscriber base, as at mid-2009, despite the best commercial efforts of its five competitors.
Internet penetration remains low (0.4% user penetration by end-2008) and Internet subscription rates are considerably lower.
Although broadband Internet services are virtually non-existent in Bangladesh, following the granting of a number of WiMAX licences in 2008, there is considerable optimism that this is about to change.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.